Crude, Realist Asshole or The New Anti-Self Help Guru?
The author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-Mark Manson-may bring out some strong reactions from you. I guess the title gives it away that this is not your typical self help book. That’s precisely why, as a therapist, I was intrigued. I was really interested to hear his “counterintuitive approach to living a good life”. He did not disappoint in the sense that his views turn traditional self help books on their head. So, if you’re not a fan of self help books, if you’re so over hearing about living your best life or if you also want to hear a fresh perspective, this book may be for you. Disclaimer-Be prepared, he uses a lot of foul language (duh), he has zero sympathy for those feeling depressed, anxious etc. (Not a fan of that) Oh, and he was a past womanizer seeking validation, which may trigger memories of past douchebags you dated. Ha!
Did I hate it? No. With all that being said, I actually thought he made a ton of good points and appreciated a radically different perspective from what I normally read. I’ll share a few so you can see if it sparks your interest.
He believes that “traditional self help fixates on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be.” He gives the example of not feeling worthy and standing in front of a mirror repeating positive self affirmations. He sees this as a complete waste of time because you’re reminding yourself over and over again of what you are not. He attributes this feeling of “less than” to society’s impossibly high standards that we are bombarded with daily on social media. “The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more…” He counters this with “the key to a good life is not giving a F about more; it’s giving a F about less, giving a F about what is true and immediate and important.”
When I first read this I thought, this guy has no idea what the therapeutic process looks like. Saying affirmations is only one tiny piece to building your self esteem. However, he did actually get into the real (and often difficult) process of peeling back the self awareness onion, layer by layer to truly reflect on why you are in the place you are.
Happiness Comes From Solving Problems
“Problems are a constant in life. When you get a gym membership to solve your problem of being overweight and unhealthy, you create new problems. Now you have to get up earlier and and mustering the motivation to make it to spin class 4 times a week.
He urges, “Don’t hope for a life without problems, hope for a life full of good problems.”
“Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you, not something you learn in a top-ten article on the Huff Post..happiness requires struggle.”
Emotions Are Overrated
If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved. They’re feedback mechanisms telling us that something is right or wrong for us-that’s it. Positive emotions are rewards for taking the proper actions. Turn your pain into a tool.”
This advice I really like because it pushes us to not over identify with our emotions, but to be more objective. Rather then getting stuck in a negative loop of depressed or anxious thoughts, be proactive and use the emotion as fuel to make changes.
You Are Not Special
We’re often told from a young age that continues into adulthood that we are special, we can achieve anything we set our minds to, we are exceptional. Great for boosting self esteem, but what happens if your life is well, pretty average? We may beat ourselves up because we haven’t been promoted, we haven’t created a successful business or we haven’t made some huge impact on society. This constant quest for the next best thing creates a world in which we are never celebrate our successes and relish in the moment, but rather are ready to move on to what’s next.
Mark believes technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems, as we constantly compare ourselves to everyone. “Being average has become the new standard of failure.” He urges readers that self improvement is really about prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a F about.
Did you read this? What are your thoughts? Love it or hate it? Fave points? xo